PHOENIX SUNS

Candidates to replace fired Suns GM Ryan McDonough

Oct 8, 2018, 12:04 PM | Updated: 5:28 pm

Phoenix Suns Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones does an interview with The Doug &a...

Phoenix Suns Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones does an interview with The Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

(Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

Suddenly, the path that looked clear — even with expected bumps in the road — is no more.

The Phoenix Suns threw another curveball in their attempt to return to legitimacy on Monday, firing general manager Ryan McDonough nine days before the season-opener. It comes a year after the team fired head coach Earl Watson three games into the 2017-18 regular season

So what comes next?

Vice president of basketball operations James Jones takes over on an interim basis, and team owner Robert Sarver said in a released statement the team would use the season to evaluate internal and external replacement candidates to lead their front office.

Here’s a look at replacement options, some of which have been thrown out by media members and others that make logical sense.

James Jones, Suns VP of basketball ops (interim)

Just a summer ago, Jones announced he’d retired as an NBA player by stepping to the podium at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Suddenly, he’s thrust into the lead role with just a year of dipping his toes in the water.

That said, Jones brings a strong reputation to the team. He’s still familiar in player circles and has plenty of experience on the management side of things having helped the players’ association negotiate the last collective bargaining agreement while serving as NBPA treasurer. Jones, who has 14 years of NBA experience, has assistant general manager Trevor Bukstein helping him in the interim.

Bukstein, who has a Georgetown law degree and worked in an agency, joined the Suns in 2010 and served under former president of basketball operations Lon Babby, focusing on salary cap management, trade and contract negotiations.

Now, he and Jones have the opportunity to show long-term potential with a dress rehearsal of a season.

Kevin McHale, former Rockets coach

A name floated by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, McHale was on the Suns’ radar during their head coaching search this offseason before the team inked Igor Kokoskov.

The former Boston Celtics great first got into the Minnesota Timberwolves’ front office in 1994 and took on the VP of basketball ops role in 1995. He held two coaching stints with the T-Wolves, in 2004-05 as an interim and 2008-09, when he stepped down from his front office role.

McHale left Minnesota after that season of coaching, then was hired as head coach of the Houston Rockets in 2011, serving through 11 games of the 2015-16 season.

David Griffin, former Cavaliers GM

Here’s the one name that would resonate throughout the basketball world and in Phoenix.

The Arizona State grad developed in the Jerry Colangelo-led Phoenix franchise, beginning as an intern in the early 1990s and working his way up to senior vice president of basketball operations under former Suns general manager Steve Kerr. Griffin left to join the Cleveland Cavaliers’ front office after Kerr departed in 2010 and in 2014 became an acting GM only to hold onto the title through 2016-17, winning a title in the process.

Griffin, who is currently working in the media, might be an interesting figure who could be added alongside Jones, who played for Griffin’s Cavs from 2014-17.

Whether it’s good or bad for his job prospects or desires, Griffin also worked under Sarver in the owner’s successful first handful of seasons as NBA owner.

Steve Nash, former Suns guard and current Warriors consultant

Wojnarowski has already shot this one down.

The two-time MVP while with the Suns would bring name recognition, but it’s clear his retirement has included a wide breadth of interests that would be limited by leading a front office.

Currently a player development consultant for the Golden State Warriors, it’s hard to imagine Nash putting his young family and other interests aside.

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Phoenix Suns

Victor Wembanyama defends Bradley Beal...

Kevin Zimmerman

James Jones touts Bradley Beal’s balance as Suns’ playoffs begin

Bradley Beal found a groove late in the regular season. James Jones spoke on him settling into his role before the playoffs.

13 hours ago

Jontay Porter received a lifetime ban for sports betting...

Arizona Sports

NBA gives Jontay Porter lifetime ban for sports betting

The NBA levied a lifetime ban on Jontay Portay after an investigation found he disclosed confidential information to sports bettors.

19 hours ago

Anthony Edwards #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves handles the ball against Jusuf Nurkic #20 and Kevi...

Kellan Olson

How the Suns shut down Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards so far this season

Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Anthony Edwards has struggled in all three meetings against the Suns. What could change in the first round?

20 hours ago

Domantas Sabonis lights the beam after beating the Warriors...

Associated Press

Sacramento Kings eliminate Golden State Warriors from play-in tournament

The Kings dealt the Warriors a bit of payback in emphatic fashion with a victory that might signal the end of a dynasty.

1 day ago

Jusuf Nurkic dribbles down the court...

Arizona Sports

Suns’ Jusuf Nurkic posts ‘that’s all folks!’ after Kings take down Draymond Green, Warriors

Shortly after the Warriors were ran out of the play-in tournament by the Kings, Jusuf Nurkic took to X with a simple yet effective post.

1 day ago

Kevin Durant and Anthony Edwards...

Arizona Sports

Full schedule: Suns-Timberwolves 1st round playoff series starts Saturday

The No. 6 seed Phoenix Suns will travel to meet the No. 3 Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

1 day ago

Candidates to replace fired Suns GM Ryan McDonough